Expression: The Perfect Headshot
What makes a great headshot? Expression!
Warmth, confidence, and approachability. All my favorite headshots have those 3 elements to them. What should not be on your face is the things that amount to a pre-occupation with something other than your connecting with the viewer. In all my favorite portraits there's not the slightest hint of doubt in the gaze of the subject. What we often refer to as being hesitant or self concious.
So why not practice?
I love Peter Hurley's work. His "squinch" video went viral on YouTube. The squinch is that slight pressure from your lower eye lids that narrows your eyes. I would go even a step further in coaching that.
You don't hear directors say, "I want you to widen your eyes so we can see as much white as possible, now raise your eye brows... ok now drop your jaw and let it go slack..." Rather, they say, "Look dumbfounded".
The "squinch" represents confidence and determination. So I wouldn't practice the "squinch" without thinking of confidence, warmth, determination, and the human connection. You have to own it, and it has to translate into a flattering expression. Most of all it has to translate to the viewer as warmth, confidence, and approachability.
You want a great headshot? Practice your expression. Stand in front of a mirror and practice looking yourself in the eye. Get comfortable with who you are. Try squinching but more importantly, try feeling confident and determined. Even more important, try transmitting warmth, confidence, and a sense that you'd love it if someone spoke to you. Imagine you're listening to someone you respect and agree with. Shooting day will go so much easier for you.